Education

Mills administration and MPA conclude football, volleyball cannot be played this fall

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Bowing to pressure from the Mills administration, the Maine Principals’ Association announced Thursday that it will not allow football or volleyball to be played this fall, but will allow other fall sports to resume competition.

The MPA and state officials released a joint statement Thursday noting the two parties had come to an agreement on which high school sports can be played this fall. Students participating in golf, cross-country, field hockey and soccer will be allowed to practice and compete in 2020. The MPA said it would “continue to work with both sport committees to provide a season in the late winter/early spring” for football and volleyball, yet there remains no guarantee either sport will be played in the 2020-21 academic year.

The MPA voted unanimously in late August to allow all fall high school sports, including football and volleyball, to be played this year, however the association’s decision did not withstand the scrutiny of the Mills administration. The administration reviewed the MPA’s recommendations last week and determined they did not conform with the state’s underlying public health restrictions.

In place of regular competition, the MPA also said it would work to provide opportunities for students participating in both cancelled sports. Athletes in football could participate in 7-on-7 flag football or punt, pass and kick competitions this fall while volleyball could only be played outdoors.

The new guidance from the MPA also states that schools that reside within a county that maintains a “yellow” or “red” designation from the state in regards to school reopening would not be allowed to practice or compete until the county returns to a green designation. This means that student athletes enrolled at schools in York County cannot currently play sports.

It remains unclear why the Mills administration did not offer this new framework as its initial guidance to the MPA before allowing it to develop the rules and recommendations for playing high school sports this fall. The announcement Thursday ends a weeks-long saga of the MPA and Mills administration’s back and forth on resuming high school sports.

While there is hope for the football and volleyball seasons to be played during the 2020-21 academic year, the decision to delay the seasons for football and volleyball will interfere with the lives of student athletes and coaches who participate in different sports each season.

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is the director of communications at Maine Policy Institute and the editor of The Maine Wire. He formerly served as a policy analyst at Maine Policy. Posik can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

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